Music News

'Soul Train' movie rolling into theaters

LOS ANGELES, April 18 (Reuters Life!) - A “Soul Train” movie is on track to arrive in movie theaters next year, the creator of the venerable urban dance television show said.

Don Cornelius told Reuters that he has teamed up with Warner Bros. Pictures to develop a buddy comedy that he hopes will spawn multiple sequels.

The project, currently called “Soul Train: The Movie,” revolves around two male dancers on the show who get into “a lot of good stuff and some bad stuff as well,” said Cornelius, who will serve as a producer.

It features “lots of music, lots of comedy,” he added, as well as “a little bit of violence.” He also promised it would be “more than slightly sensual.”

“‘Soul Train’ has always been about sexuality,” Cornelius said. “It’s almost never been about guys, and almost always about girls. It’s what has kept us afloat for these three decades or so.”

A first draft is being written by rookie scribe J. Gil Williams, and is due to be turned in next month. No director or cast are attached yet. Cornelius declined to disclose a budget. Although he hosted “Soul Train” for its first 22 years, the former Chicago radio DJ will not appear in front of the camera.

Also producing is Darryl Porter, the executive producer of the Hughes brothers’ 1995 urban crime drama “Dead Presidents.”

Cornelius said he had long planned to make a movie, but was either busy running his syndicated TV show, or had difficulty getting all the elements together at the same time.

He has a bit more time on his hands these days, because “Soul Train” ended its historic run in 2006. The show, which claimed to be the longest-running show airing in first-run syndication, served as an important promotional springboard for black music’s biggest stars since launching nationally in 1971.

Cornelius said “Soul Train” and the show that inspired it, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” together ran for about 70 years, and it was time to rest the simple -- but lucrative -- format of kids in a TV studio dancing to music. He is developing some new “Soul Train” programming concepts for television, but declined to get into specifics.

Cornelius also hoped to be back in 2009 with the Soul Train Music Awards, which did not go ahead with their 22nd annual installment this year because of uncertainty caused by the Hollywood writers strike.

The ceremony, which usually takes place in March, must line up top stars to receive honorary awards well in advance, and planning became impossible once the writers began their 100-day walkout last November.

Most of the winners in the competitive categories did not turn up to last year’s event, continuing a trend that has dogged the show for the last decade. Cornelius was philosophical, noting that other awards shows have similar problems, and that it is difficult to put together events when the music industry itself is struggling for survival.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Patricia Reaney